I know I did a post like this not too long ago, but I got to thinking it would be a good thing to do at the end of the month and I was too impatient to wait for the end of August to start (plus it’s going to be crazy chaotic!), so here we are. This go ’round, instead of linking to various articles/short stories/poems/etc. that I’ve found online, I’m doing a round up of the books I’ve read during July. There’s a second hand store a three minute walk from here where everyone dumps the books they brought to read during their vacation and I get to buy them for 1€ each, which is the best thing in the world, yes? Next month, the idea is to combine both things I’ve read online and books into one post. Yay combining things! (Pssst. If you want to see what I’m reading, you can also check out my Instagram. I’m that person who takes pictures of her books. I know, I know.)
1. The Island by Victoria Hislop – Was recommended to me by a woman also looking for something to read (who, in turn, I recommended both Half of a Yellow Sun and Suite Française because I couldn’t help myself). I enjoyed learning about something I wouldn’t have gone searching for myself, but the story around what happens on the island, in modern day, with Alexis and her mother and between her and her boyfriend, feels very obvious, as if it’s following a path and shouldn’t deviate. I did enjoy it, but I wouldn’t go back to re-read it.
2. The Miracle Game by Josef Skvorecky – I picked it up and then put it down and then picked it up again and bought it before I could change my mind. I don’t know much about Czech history and the politics behind it, but this was interesting. The style and the back and forths in history, the large cast of characters (which could be trying to keep up with at times), the way it was a bit of a detective novel trying to figure out who and what and, really, why, really pulled me in and I couldn’t put it down. I would definitely re-read it, if only to do so more slowly and let all the details sink in sharply.
3. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres – Last year when I was in France, Katie mentioned this was her favourite book and I made a mental note to get my hands on it. Fast forward a year and a half and I was in Granada and still hadn’t read it when one of the girls staying in the same room as I was pulled it out. When I got back from my trip, I only half remembered the name and would have forgotten completely if I hadn’t looked up at the top bookshelf. Reading from various characters’ POV is one of my favourite things. Getting to see things through all of their eyes and understanding how things impact each of them just makes a story that much more intense and intricate and complicated and human, in my opinion. It just swept me up and everyone’s voice was completely their own and how I didn’t feel like I ever got lost through all the characters and where they were. Recommend it in a heartbeat.
4. The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson – I didn’t know what to expect from this book, but anywhere ‘pirates’ are mentioned, I’m more than keen to follow. I haven’t seen any Errol Flynn movies, so for me, he was just as much a character as everyone else. I enjoyed how everything got tossed into the book: love and romance, politics and history, characters from various countries coming to live in the same space, the tough decisions that might have looked like easy decisions to other people. I was also very interested in how Ida and May both looked at themselves and how proud they were to be Jamaican even if they might not have looked Jamaican to others and the way Cezair-Thompson wrote about May’s confused feelings about where she belonged and if she belonged, if she had a right to belong. She writes beautifully and even though the book spans decades, it never feels like it takes too long to get there. Another one I would recommend.
5. The Girl at the Lion d’Or by Sebastian Faulks – Quite an easy read, but I loved the writing. Simple and elegant and caused me to pause to either re-read a passage or a page or just let the feeling settle for a second. I think out of all the characters, Hartmann is my favourite and I’m sure I’m supposed to love Anne, but there’s something about her I can’t quite stand. I also really liked the inclusion of Christine and while I’m also sure I’m supposed to pity her, I admire her quiet strength and her idea that, if she just waits long enough and patiently enough, Hartmann will return to her.
I’ve just started my next book and am quite enjoying it so far, especially the fact that I’ve been to the places mentioned, I know the streets the author is writing about and the characters are writing about. Let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading! I’m always looking for a good recommendation.